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This Week’s Guest Blog by Pumpkin Beth

Pumpkin Beth

“Wherever I am, I am never happier than when I am surrounded by plants! “

I adore woodlands, meadows, gardens, plants, and nature. Wherever I am, I am never happier than when I am surrounded by plants! When I am inside, I get so much pleasure from creating indoor gardens: miniature worlds with their own individual landscapes and environments. I just love planting bottle gardens and terrariums! I also enjoy creating orchidariums: enclosures that provide my orchids with automated plant care, using automatic misting units, fans, and LED lights. I enjoy every aspect of indoor gardening, I take pleasure in creating all manner of indoor gardens and designing displays with potted houseplants. I love to find a plant for every area of my home!

The secret to indoor gardening is to look at the conditions you have available and then choose a plant that is perfectly suited to your environment. So, if you have a very sunny window sill, then you may want to grow a plant that enjoys bright light, like an African violet, a cactus, or an Aloe vera. Whereas, if you’re looking for a plant for a shaded spot, you may want to grow an Aspidistra or a Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant, also known as a ZZ plant. 

Streptocarpus ‘Polka-dot Purple’ produces flowers in abundance, just one plant can produce a display of one hundred flowers! This is a truly striking plant, each individual bloom displays a distinctive purple and white veining. This cultivar can be in flower for ten months of the year!

Streptocarpus flowers look great on the plant, they are held on longer stems than you might expect and make fantastic little posies of cut flowers. The plant’s flowers are very eye-catching, but I also admire this Streptocarpus cultivar’s leaves – Streptocarpus leaves are rather like primrose leaves – they’re very pretty, with attractive veining.

Streptocarpus ‘Polka-dot Purple’ is a great choice of plant for an area of your home that receives filtered, indirect light. Avoid a location where your plant’s leaves could be scorched by harsh light or direct sunshine. Take care to only water your Streptocarpus ‘Polka-dot Purple’ plant, once your plant’s compost has dried out, as this plant does not enjoy sitting in water, or being watered too frequently – I water my Streptocarpus plants and then I allow the compost to dry out before I water my plants again.

Phalaenopsis ‘New Life’ is a newly introduced Phalaenopsis, which has already been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit – an award given to special plants which are dependable performers. These plants have proven themselves to grow and flower reliably given regular care but no special attention. AGM plants are great plants to look out for at your nursery or garden centre, they often have the AGM symbol (a trophy or cup) on their plant label. This new Phalaenopsis is just so pretty; its ivory flowers are infused with the most delicate of pinks, the back of the plant’s petals blush prettily and the centre of each flower is delightfully freckled. As well as looking good, this Phalaenopsis has a delicate floral scent, which is most pronounced in the morning. Phalaenopsis ‘New Life’ is ideally suited to growing in a location that receives bright, but indirect light. Avoid growing this Phalaenopsis above a radiator, or in too bright a location, where the plant’s leaves may be scorched by harsh or direct light. For best results, place your plant in a location away from extremes in temperature.

If you’ve given any of your houseplants a summer holiday outdoors, it’s important to remember to give all of your plants a really thorough check over and a detailed examination before you bring your plants back inside. Examine the undersides of your plant’s leaves and remove any slugs and snails you find. Insects like aphids, or scale insects may be hiding on your plant’s stems and on the undersides of your plant’s leaves, so you may want to wipe over and clean your plant’s leaves before you bring your plants in.  
Aphids have sharp, piercing mouthpieces which puncture the plant’s stem, allowing the aphid to feast on the plant’s sap, as if it was drinking through a straw! Aphids give birth to live young. A new born aphid becomes a mother itself just a week or two after being born! Aphids can seriously weaken a plant, these insects can also spread viruses, so they aren’t the sort of guest that you want to invite to stay inside your home!

Remember to lift your plant up to check the base and undersides of your plant’s container for any pests that might be hiding. Look inside your container’s drainage holes, and under the rim of the pot, as well as inside any other crevices where slugs and snails might stow away. I use a torch when I am examining my plants, as the light helps me to be able to search more accurately. It’s important to remove all of these potential pests before you bring your plants indoors, as outside in the garden these creatures have a wider range of plants to feast on, so their damage is not as noticeable or destructive to individual plants. Whereas inside your home, the plant offerings that are available are often more limited, and as predators are not on hand to control their numbers, pest damage can be catastrophic. So, it’s really important to examine your plants thoroughly before you move them inside, to prevent your houseplants being decimated by any hungry creatures!

If you’re interested in indoor gardening, whether you’re thinking about creating a terrarium or bottle garden, or you’re looking for a new houseplant, you’ll find lots of information, step-by-step guides, ideas, and inspiration at www.pumpkinbeth.com

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